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#4843: Dominican businesses head to Haiti for better pay (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

FEATURE-Dominican businesses head to Haiti  for better pay
Updated 9:29 AM ET August 10, 2000 By Trenton Daniel

 PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Juan Fabian begins  cooking his chickens
around 5 p.m., as dusk starts to   descend on the corner of Avenue
Pan-Americaine and  Rue Rebecca in Petionville on the outskirts of   
Port-au-Prince.  He and his staff of six, with their small streetside
 barbecue, sell generous servings of chicken, onions  and plantains to
people with big appetites and little  money.  "Making chicken is my
profession," Fabian said with a  smile as cars lined up for his famous
food on a bustling  Friday night. The 44-year-old Dominican emigre
started his business  in 1987, left briefly for the neighboring
Dominican  Republic during a U.S. embargo, then returned to    reopen
his business in 1992. Coming back to Haiti has served him well: He makes
a  decent profit and enjoys his job.  Fabian is not the only Dominican
to move to Haiti for  what, perhaps surprisingly, is a better way of
life.  Although the two share the Caribbean island of  Hispaniola, Haiti
is poorer, with a GDP of $7.1 billion  compared to its neighbor's $38.3
billion, and many  Haitians flock east looking for work.   But
Dominicans are crossing the border too, capitalizing on untapped
business opportunities even  though neighborly relations remain sour and
Haiti  wrestles with a crumbling economy.  "Before the '90s Dominicans
identified Haiti as an  important economic extension," said Hans  
Tippenhauer, an analyst for Petionville-based financial  consulting firm
Group Croissance.


 That changed under the U.S. embargo aimed at Haiti's  military rulers,
he said. "But Dominican businesses (in  Haiti) have been intensifying
lately."  Just a few years ago, business between the two countries was
confined to trading, he said, but today  many Dominican businesses are
setting up shop in  Haiti and thriving.  Entrepreneurs like Juan
Figueroa, 46, president of his  own electrical engineering company and
 self-proclaimed "businessman for the people," come   with capital in
hand, which allows them to keep profits  high, costs low and customers
aplenty.  Figueroa came to Haiti from the Dominican Republic 18 months
ago and set up his office and home in the Delmas neighborhood of
Port-au-Prince. He makes a modest profit working seven days a week and
said he enjoys the lack of competition. "I have a lot of work, but I
like it here," he said, waving a clipboard full of customer receipts.   
Dominicans are not limited to chicken and engineering.  They sell
everything from bread to beer, plastic bags to soap, and have set up
beauty salons and tourist  agencies. Demand for these services exists
because Haitians have grown accustomed to Dominican goods, according to
Michele Wucker, a business reporter who  watches Dominican-Haitian
issues. But Haiti's Dominican enterprises may come at a cost.


"Dominican businesses are good for Haiti in that they provide more and
better quality products, but bad for Haiti because they could wipe out
Haitian businesses,"  she said. Dominican businesses could strengthen
the economy  by pushing Haitians to improve the quality of their own  
goods, Wucker said. Their presence could also help ameliorate troubled
relations between the two  countries, which have festered for decades.  
Many Dominicans have traditionally looked down on Haitians and their
relationship is forever scarred by the 1937 massacre of an estimated
15,000 Haitian migrants in a campaign led by troops of Dominican
dictator Rafael Trujillo.  This June, Dominican soldiers opened fire on
a  truckload of Haitians attempting to cross the border illegally,
killing seven people and wounding eight  more. The killings ignited
protests in front of the Dominican Consulate in Petionville.  But tense
relations between Dominicans and Haitians are not putting a damper on
Dominican businesses in  Haiti at a local level. Fabian and Figueroa
both said  they have not encountered any clashes with neighbors.

 And the profits keep rolling in. Keania Puello, a 23-year-old Dominican
who has  worked with Fabian since she came to Haiti eight    months ago,
said she makes up to $50 a night. "There is more money here than in
Santo Domingo, and work is better," she said, stuffing money into a